The definition of construction and demolition debris can vary among states however, according to FEMA’s debris manual, it encompasses: “damaged components of buildings and structures, such as lumber and wood, gypsum wallboard, glass, metal, roofing material, tile, carpeting and floor coverings, window coverings, pipe, concrete, fully cured asphalt, equipment, furnishings, and fixtures.” 3
While most disasters produce debris, floods, the most dangerous and costly type of natural disasters in the United States, produce extensive amounts of it — both natural and man-made. After flooding in a populated area subsides, people return to their homes and businesses to begin the cleaning process. That process can often entail gutting affected structures. All of this activity generates a steady stream of debris, which is often placed onto public right-of-ways.
A common error is to incorrectly estimate the amount of debris based on what is immediately visible. However, the amount of debris placed onto right-of- ways will continue to increase as more people return to the area. Sometimes, volunteer groups arrive to assist residents and business owners. If the amount of debris is underestimated, it can significantly slow down the recovery effort simply because there isn’t enough equipment onsite to handle the debris removal.
Debris removal can be divided into three categories: Public property debris removal, private property debris removal and private property demolitions.